THE NIGHT was as wicked as they come, with howling wind and lashing rain doing everything it could to dampen the early Christmas cheer.
But in Newcastle West last Friday evening, the festive spirit was steadfast and stubborn as locals of all ages gathered for the turning on of the townâ€™s Christmas lights display.
The delightfully damp duty of flicking the switch was carried out by local sports volunteer Breda Corbett, who won the most votes in a Facebook competition to find Newcastle Westâ€™s number one â€˜heroâ€™.
The competition, the lights and the arrival of Santa himself on the side of a fire truck was organised by the Newcastle West Business Association, the local tradersâ€™ body which is seeking to encourage as many people as possible to keep their Christmas shopping local this December.
Florence Flanagan, chairperson of the business association, said that following a torrential yet successful switching-on ceremony, the focus has now switched to a â€˜best dressed windowâ€™ competition.
â€œWeâ€™re starting up the best dressed window this Thursday, and weâ€™ll be going round over the next couple of weeks, right up to Christmas week, trying to pick the winner and best runners up.
â€œWeâ€™ve a prize fund of about â‚¬200 worth of vouchers to spend in the town for the winners. People can be creative about it too - Aileen down at â€˜Second Time Aroundâ€™ doesnâ€™t have a big window, so sheâ€™s going to decorate the inside of her shop. Itâ€™ll be a good way of keeping the festive spirit going.â€
The â€˜Find a Heroâ€™ competition was run all last week on the business associationâ€™s Facebook page, and attracted more than 200 votes for a number of nominated candidates. The best dressed window contest will take a similar format, with members of the local public nominating the shop windows which they think deserve to be recognised.
For anyone looking to find it, the Facebook page is under Newcastle-West Business Association.